berlin

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Train Time, Town Time…

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I’m on the fast train to Denmark, which I fortunately made, by sheer luck!  The train was delayed five minutes which is just what I needed, since I’d remembered the departure time at 11:36 a.m. as opposed to the actual departure of 11:26 a.m.!!  Whew…  =)

 Come to find out the reason the ticket was twice the cost of other trains I’ve traveled on the past two months is because, this train loads up on a ferry when we get to the ocean, crossing into Denmark.  How cool, I’ll get to be on the water again!  There was also a special at the bahnhof when I went to purchase my ticket, for only 5 Euros more I’m leaving Europe via first class.  I must be doing something right.

I’m due to arrive in Copenhagen around 6 p.m. where two lovely ladies will be joining me for dinner tonight; they are local Danish friends of another friend back home in the islands.  Gitte & Minna are who will be showing me around their great city of Copenhagen, which Lone left several years ago when she met & married her husband, John. It’s all about the folks you meet in life as the journey of life continues to unfold, right?   You never know where a brief hello will take you, since that is all the time I had with Gitte & Minna in Hawaii.  We met for sunset cocktails at the Hale Koa Hotel with Lone, sipping on mai tai’s together, now I’m on my way to Copenhagen.  “Life is good”, as Lone would say!

 Yet, Berlin is where I’ve just spent the past six days.  Each day the city kept revealing itself to me in a new way, even when I would see the same place on another day from a different street or mode of transport—the city just kept on redefining itself each time, with each impression.  It’s really a unique city in comparison to other European cities for many reasons.  The most obvious one is that it has rebuilt itself, after the 28 years that the Berlin Wall stood through its borders, literally separating families, friends, and communities overnight.  The wall came down in 1989; it went up in 1961, all within my lifetime.  I can only imagine what the lives of those it physically separated must have been like in those days, also in the years that followed when it finally came down.

Berlin Old & New

I remember well when the headlines read “Berlin Wall Coming Down!”  It rekindled dreams of the days when people believed that change is possible.  We could end wars, or an oppressive government, by protesting, that a collective consciousness can move mountains or walls…  How wonderful is that?

Achtung Berlin!!  What a city—from the touristy trap of Checkpoint Charlie, to the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Tiergarten, to it’s impressive museums like the Pergamon and the Jewish Museum, both left me totally impressed, moved and educated, especially the Jewish Museum for obvious reasons.  Thank God, my ancestors did not have to live through any of the horrors that happened to the Jewish people during World War II.  Although the museum really didn’t focus on that aspect at all, but more on what Germany has lost in terms of its society.  So many Jews left the country when they could, both before the war and afterwards, when they said, “Enough”, giving birth to Israel. 

But Berlin is so much more than these things today. 

 It is a vibrant city with all kinds of artists vying to make a mark in the world, be it music, visual arts, classical concerts, you name it—the best talents in the world come to Berlin to launch careers.  I found a great little spot a few blocks away from my hotel that was a music school, with students performing free shows each evening.  It was called the “Schlot”.  Great jazz…for free!  Then I noticed when I was cruising the city on my rented bicycle (the only way to really see this city in my opinion) in the Old Town area, at the Konzerhal, a “Young Euro Classics” series of classical performances in the Konzerhal.  Only 15 Euros per night!  I went yesterday on my last day, with it being a series of piano performances throughout the day at two hour intervals, for only 6 Euros!  Again, I think I’m doing something right.  The pianist came out for two encores to standing ovations—amazing final night in Berlin for me.  I had preceded that by going to the top of the “Fernsehturm” TV-Tower, to get a bird’s eye view of the city. I wound up having dinner in one of those revolving-type of restaurants with a sweet Scottish woman by the name of Violet, who was waiting for a solo seat also.  We had a great time talking over so many things, exchanging emails at the end of dinner.

 And so the journey continues…

Copenhagen via my room in Jaipur, India

Aug. 23rd 4 p.m.  (tea time)

To write of my 4 days in Copenhagen after my last 48 hours in India, may prove a bit difficult to do it justice but here I go…. 

Let me say this though, India is everything you imagine it to be like—sounds (noise, honking horns at all hours, masses of people everywhere, poverty & affluence side by side in the street, on the metro, at a temple) but for now—

Copenhagen.

I spent 4 nights in this seaside city of 3 million inhabitants.  It does live up to its reputation of being VERY expensive.  My first evening after my train ride from Berlin, I was met at my hotel lobby by the dear friends of another friend in Hawaii, Gitte & Minna, who were my “Ambassadors of Aloha”!  =)  These two wonderful women certainly did their best to show me their city and countryside, in what time they could manage to take off from their busy careers and families.

Scandinavian Sweeties

We rendezvoused around 8 p.m. and walked through the city, crossed a canal with a bunch of folks on a river cruise, were greeted with champagne corks flying, us waving to them a “royal wave” as they continued their celebration they were having.  We finished down on the harbor front in what is the original harbor of Copenhagen, off Larsens Plads.  It was lined with beautiful old homes with typical Danish architecture, somewhat like what you would see in Amsterdam or in the Netherlands.  It was a Monday evening so we didn’t stay out too late but enjoyed an appetizer & a bottle of wine together.  When I said it was expensive, this will give you an idea—I only ordered some soup which was priced about the same as other appetizers on the menu…my bowl of soup was approximately $17 USD.  Ouch!!

 We made plans to meet the next morning since Gitte wanted to drive up to the north end of the island to this seaport town called, Gilleleje–right down my alley!  Unfortunately the weather gods were not cooperating with us the next day, but it was a good day to be driving in a car, as opposed to the rain & cold all around.  By the time we got to our destination the rain had stopped.  We were able to spend a little time walking the docks looking at the various fishing vessels around, snapping a few shots of the area.  We then had a typical seaside lunch from the area, talking together and getting to know one another somewhat finally.  It was a really nice afternoon.  We topped it off by stopping at this castle called, Frederiksborg, for some coffee & dessert.  It turns out the castle’s church is where Minna was married at.  What an incredible setting!

 It literally is still surrounded by a moat, with gorgeous gardens beside it and a lake that looks out on the town where Minna has lived for several years.  We really had a great time walking around there, taking lots of pictures again, since the rain decided to stop again after our decadent dessert of walnut pie—OMG, was it delicious.

 We dropped Minna off at her car in town there and then Gitte drove me all the way back into Copenhagen, where she had to turn around and probably drive another hour to where she lives….talk about aloha spirit.  Thank you, once again.

Cycle City Copenhagen

The next day I took care of a lot of details for my next destinations, such as finding accommodations, flights and so on since it was a pretty cold rainy day.  Finally in the afternoon it cleared up, so I got out rented a bicycle for 24 hours and did some exploring on my own.  I wound up in another harbor community known as Christianshavn—beautiful.  There were tons of sailboats here, as well as houseboats.  I found one for sale that would be just down my alley for my next abode, only problem would be getting it to Hawaii.  Any takers?! =)

 My final day I just rode around the city some more on my bicycle, found the king’s gardens and his castle, Rosenborg.  Again, just gorgeous landscapes, gardens, and some tranquility in the midst of a huge city—I think the tranquility I find in these places is what keeps drawing me to them.  That and also the beauty of the garden designs, all for free. 

Rosenburg Castle

My last evening I hit Tivoli Gardens to ride an amusement ride, for an adrenaline rush.  Maybe in preparing for the rush of adrenaline that I knew awaited me in India. 

 Stay tuned…….